The Tools We Used
My father gripping the lawnmower's handle
on Saturdays to pummel twigs
was how we measured time.
His pulse beating in his fingers.
One way to show love
is walking back and forth in rows.
On its side
like a frail animal
the wheel-hoe blurs
covered in rain
near wilting summer squash.
I was never taught to rip wood in half with an axe
to build a fire
like my brother.
What I've come to know of love
is a tractor blade
set to cut just above the soil,
Papa shaving his neck
with a razor while camel-crickets
clicked in the basement.
When I followed you back to your land,
when I became a woman
who farms and wears ball-caps, you tucked
in my breast pocket.
Glue that holds thin strands
of my mother's quilt, her straight blonde hairs,
the photograph of her
when she was my age and married,
in my colored notebook.
You learned love is a hammer
beating a nail into bent pine.
The chop-saw and the board it slices.
Blue Ridge campfire nights.
Brother, do you remember
parents tied the trash to a branch
while we whittled sticks
in the souring moonlight?
Digging for carrots before the first hard snow,
hand-blue and mountain-sore,
I broad-forked a foot deep in cold soil.
Shelf of nails. Bent hooks. PVC. Impact
driver. Couplings. Hand saw. Sander.
Trencher. Nail gun. Tiller. Tractor. Disc.
Apple peeler. Seeder. Spreader. Collinear
hoe. Wheel-hoe. Stirrup hoe. Pruning
scissors. Buck knife. Map lines. Gloves.
I buried my pen in my father's warehouse.